Thanks to the Internet, your potential buyers have never had as much information available to them before they engage with your business as they do now. Moreover, they need to gain more buy-in internally and have a growing number of options to choose from besides yours.
Therefore, when they do interact with your organization, they are usually more informed. They have a slew of specific questions that they want answers to, and they have demands.
They don’t want to be sold to but rather helped and guided toward a decision to buy.
This means that sellers need to adjust to a more buyer-centric model. In other words, the most efficient B2B sales strategy today is to make it easier for your customers to buy from you. Gartner statistics show that suppliers that make purchasing easy are 62% likelier than other suppliers to win a high-quality sale.
But what levers should you pull and tweak to make it easier for your customers to buy from your organization? Will giving your prospective customers more information and being more responsive to their demands actually move them faster toward a buying decision?
Read on to learn why the answers are a bit more complex than standard sales organization logic dictates.
The widespread notion that modern-day customers are in the driver’s seat – informed and so clear about what they want that they don’t bother to engage with sellers until late in the buying process – may need a slight adjustment. Your buyers are more informed than ever, true enough, but they are also more uncertain and stressed than ever before.
A B2B customer who considers buying enterprise software, for example, must deal with an ever-expanding array of options – and a wealth of data on each solution. What’s more, that customer needs to deal with multiple internal stakeholders involved in the decision process. This does the exact opposite of easing a purchase.
Laying out a suite of options and ensuring that your customers have all the product information, cases, and testimonials they need might be the more customer-centric approach, but it doesn’t necessarily increase purchase ease.
According to Gartner, being responsive to customers to drive increased differentiation makes it harder for them to buy solutions. Instead, it gives more options and information to an already overwhelmed buyer – which doesn’t translate into becoming easier to buy from.
Yes, you need to engage with your customers, as early as possible in their buying journey. To build rapport and trust, seek reasons to engage sooner and more often. Respond and be available when and where your customers need you. Be there for them online and automate responses where practical (but always offer the personal touch).
However, don’t just be responsive and available – provide clear recommendations, too. This is where the prescriptive approach enters the picture.
CEB research indicates that unlike the traditional responsive approach, where sellers give prompt information and answers and adjust offerings to better meet customer needs, a proactive, prescriptive approach can increase a customer’s purchase ease by as much as 86%.
A take-charge prescriptive approach, where you as a seller provide clear “do this” and “do not do this” recommendations, sweeps away obstacles and moves your potential customer through the buying process with ease:
“Prescriptive suppliers give a clear recommendation for action backed by a specific rationale; they present a concise offering and a stable view of their capabilities; and they explain complex aspects of the purchase process clearly.” (Source: “The New Sales Imperative”, Harvard Business Review.)
Read more: How to Stop Selling and Increase Sales
Sellers that effectively implement the prescriptive approach to easing purchases follow a set of best-practice steps that can be summarized as follows:
To understand how best to support your customers through each step in their journey toward a purchase, you must map the process stages. A detailed understanding of customers’ activities during the buying process will help you uncover many of the struggles that customers typically face with suppliers as they explore the information and options available to them.
During the purchasing process, there are numerous places where your potential customer could hit buying decision roadblocks that overwhelm them, stall them or, worse, derail them entirely. These barriers to purchase must be identified and overcome.
When you have identified the roadblocks that your customers are likely to run into across the buying process, you must guide them around these to keep them moving forward along a purchase path leading to a solution that your company is uniquely positioned to provide.
Along the way, systematically provide guidance and decision-enforcing clarity in the form of concrete, evidence-based recommendations. This helps cut through the clutter of information and increases the chances of winning high-quality deals.
B2B sales strategies evolve and change along with shifts in buyer behaviors and demands, but one factor will never go out of style. Quality.
No matter what approach you ultimately take to guiding your buyers through the complexities that precede a purchase, you must always provide the highest quality from start to finish.
Don't disregard quality – at the end of the day, it is what we all expect and rely on when purchasing products or services from vendors.
One of the key factors to succeeding in B2B sales and customer service is to make buying from your company easy. The easier it is to buy from you, the more prone businesses are to choose you as a supplier.
To load the odds in your favor when competing for a sale with your competitors, you need to pull both engagement and quality levers.
How can your sales organization address these factors and enable them to be scaled? Traditional sales personnel is no longer sufficient; you need automation alongside it.
Fortunately, there are enterprise-grade software solutions purpose-built to making this easy and cost-effective for organizations to do.
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